G. K. Chesterton on the Joy of God

G K Chesterton

In his marvelous book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton writes one of the most powerful paragraphs on the joy of God.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

If you have never read anything by Chesterton, then you’re missing out. He was a strong influence on C. S. Lewis and many other well-known writers, such as Graham Greene, Dorothy Sayers, Ernest Hemingway and T. S. Eliot. A good place to start would be either Orthodoxy or The Everlasting Man. If you have a taste for fiction, then you would probably enjoy The Father Brown Mysteries or The Man Who Was Thursday.

The Heart of God’s Deliverance: a word from John Oswalt on Isaiah 9

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

I came across this eye-catching word from John Oswalt while studying for an upcoming message from Isaiah 9:6-7:

How will God deliver from arrogance, war, oppression, and coercion? By being more arrogant, more warlike, more oppressive, and more coercive? Surely, the book of Isaiah indicates frequently that God was powerful enough to destroy his enemies in an instant, yet again and again, when the prophet comes to the heart of the means of deliverance, a childlike face peers out at us. God is strong enough to overcome his enemies by becoming vulnerable, transparent, and humble—the only hope, in fact, for turning enmity into friendship.

John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, chapters 1-39, NICOT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), 245.

Every Life Made in God’s Image

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So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Each and every life is made in God’s image. Because of this great truth, no life is either less valuable or more valuable than another. To speak of the value of each life reminds us that in God’s eyes each of us is treasured and loved beyond measure. God gave Himself for us in Jesus Christ and that shows us just how far He will go to display His selfless love for us.

Let us not lose sight of the precious wonder in each other person made by God and treasured by God. Let us not fail to honor the wondrous work of God in each other human being we encounter. Let us look for God’s handiwork and do our best to preserve and honor the treasure that God has given us in one another. Let us stand against anything that hinders such preservation and treasuring while simultaneously working for the upbuilding of each life into God’s greatest potential for them.

When voices of hate rise up, let us counter them with words of love.
When misunderstanding and misrepresentation blaze, let us be willing to slow down to hear and understand the other.
When pain surges in lives around us, let us not rush past but dwell with the other in their pain and salve their wounds with the compassionate love of God.
When fear grips human life with wild uncertainty, let us instead walk by faith and not by sight.
When acts of violence fuel the flames, let us work steadily for peace through self-sacrifice.
When human efforts fail, may we seek to redirect all eyes to the Living God revealed in Jesus Christ.

May we do this because our God came in and brought salvation in His very flesh that all might experience the abundant life through Him.  May we do this so that God’s glory—His goodness and greatness—might be made manifest upon this earth. May we do this until the day when a new heaven and a new earth are brought forth in fullness and we see Him face to face.

Encountering the Overwhelming Presence of God

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Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Lord, awesome God, who reveals with great power who You are and Your ways, I come to You in awe and humility today. If the might of storms and hurricanes show forth power, how much greater are You, the God who made those storms and hurricanes? “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and “clouds and thick darkness surround him” (97:2). Your power and majesty are overwhelming and unyielding. No wonder the Israelites trembled with fear after the Exodus while at Mount Sinai, begging Moses not to go up the mountain but to wait at a safe distance. You are not a God who by any means is safe. So “who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” (24:3). The question is not only who may but who would want to do something so bold? As it says elsewhere, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Yet here is an equally overpowering and awe-inspiring series of truths. “We have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God” (4:14). “Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant….he is able to save completely those who come to God through him” (7:22, 25). “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (9:14). “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:16). This seems almost as a different world from those overwhelming words of distance earlier. On our own we could perchance try to ascend Your hill, but the revelation of our own inabilities and insignificance would lead us to falter, even hinder us entirely. Who can ascend? The One who is blameless, even Jesus the Messiah, who then makes a way for us to draw near to Your throne? of grace, finding there not fear-filled judgment but even awesome and undeserved mercy and grace in the presence of You, the holy God.

Thank You, Lord, for this greatest of gifts and the wonderful opportunity to know You and the responsibility to serve You upon earth. May we live in response to Your grace today!

A Thrill of Hope for a Weary World

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The Christmas Eve services at Eastbrook were themed around a line from “O Holy Night”: “a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.” My message in the services explored that theme, turning attention to how Jesus helps us see what God is really like and how the incarnation gives us true hope. In particular, I drew upon Hebrews 1:1-3:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.

I attempted to draw into sharper focus three ways that Jesus shows us something about God:

  • That God exists
  • That God cares for us and the world more than we understand
  • That God is here – God “shows up”

You can watch the message below.